Reframing expectations.

by .

‘United will get run ragged by the German boys’

The coolest take of mine this week.

Getting smashed by OGS 5-0 is embarrassing. But look, that’s the reality of United, they have a lot of good players that on their night, can be absolutely devastating.

… poor Nagelsmann. That’s a real spanking. Another one of my hipster fantasies running into problems.

So, onto Arsenal.

We host Dundalk. It’s a dreamy story of a team that’s climbed the ranks with a coach that was teaching kids to play football in America not so long ago. What a day out they’re going to have.

We should beat them, but they’ll be high on life, so this will very much take on the vibe of an early-round FA Cup game. I’m praying for a win out here…

There’s a lot of misery around Arsenal and Arteta at the moment. Everyone needs to take a reality pill and get back on track with what the project is about.

This time last year, people were genuinely talking about Arsenal getting relegated. We were 12 points off 1st, and 4 points off 14th. There was no direction, the players looked uninterested, and things were about to get very, very bad for us.

We hired in a 38-year-old manager. He expertly steered us out of a hideous situation and stabilised the club. That was a huge task most thought he was incapable of.

His biggest mission has been to change the culture of the club, that takes time, especially when you can’t turn over large chunks of the squad that were badly recruited.

Arteta tasked himself with making us difficult the beat. He has achieved that. No one comes to Arsenal to roll us these days, you might think that’s no big deal, but we have literally been getting rolled by top teams for 10 years. We are good at defending. We have the second-best defence in the league and we rarely concede more than one goal. Shots against us have drastically reduced. Again, you might think that’s par the course, but it is within living memory that Watford had 32 attempts at our goal.

Part one of the job is on track. The foundation has been set. The next phase is about fixing the attack.

Here, we have to be realistic. Solving that problem with internal solutions, to the level we require, is unlikely to happen. We don’t have the attacking riches United, Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea or City have… even Everton look like they have better-attacking options than we do.

We clearly lack a #10 or a modern #8 player. It isn’t one player either, it’s two. We don’t have players that thrive in the half-spaces. There’s no Hleb, Santi, Wilshere or Rosicky to make the magic happen. We’re currently relying on Saka adapting to that role, and that will be a huge ask. He’s more suited as a wide player.

Wide player-wise, there’s simply no world in which Arteta sanctions £72m for Pepe. He’s not playing well because he’s not that good. We hope based on his price tag, the reality is, if his name was Billy Smith and he was a youth player, we’d not be interested. Reiss Nelson is now the answer, but let’s be honest, he was struggling the break into Hoffenheim after a blistering start and we spent the summer trying to move him on. We love Gabriel, but it’s still a stretch to think he’s going to be a teenage saviour this season.

Then you look at the striking options. Auba through the middle isn’t an option because he can’t hold the ball up in the way we’d like. Lacazette isn’t right, and Eddie seems a way off ready. Fans are pumping Balogun?! That’s not right.

If we’re realistic, solving our attack is going to be very, very tough.

At the moment, our approach is to squeeze out chances to make our powerplays. The hope is that out of 4-5 good chances we create, we score one and batten down the hatches. This season, our form has been poor and we’re not taking our chances. Nothing has clicked and lady luck has covid.

You also have to accept that when you hire a young coach, they will make mistakes and misjudge situations. Arteta has a high ceiling, but he has to learn. We couldn’t afford to spend £15m on Poch, so we took a chance on potential. He will fumble, he will do odd things, but that’s a price worth paying, because when he gets it right, and he will, it’ll be worth the entrance fee.

‘SACK HIM’ is not analysis. It’s what stupid people who live in the moment say. Again, worth noting that the ‘best young coach in the world’, just had his arse handed to him by OGS. RB Leipzig is a very well assembled side deep into its development. They made the semi-finals of the Champions League last season. They are a good team, but bumps in the road are part of the journey when you bring in a young manager. Even Jose, with a far better squad than ours, tanked a 3-0 lead to West Ham.

I also find the perversion people have over William Saliba very, very odd. Arsenal are pretty good at defending. If we are not including a young player in our squad this season, there’s a good reason for it. The player had fitness issues last season, so we know there are problems there, because the Premier League is brutal. He can’t speak English, which is also tough to manage. He’s 19 years old, has just moved to a new country, and he’s dealing with horrendous personal problems. Do we think throwing a precocious talent into the first team, just because Dave on the internet saw two minutes of him on Youtube, is a good idea? Do we need to wreck him in front of millions to prove a point? 19-year-old centre backs at the highest level of the Premier League are a very, very, very rarely a thing. Arteta is protecting a player that has a very, very, very long career ahead of him. You are really struggling if your analysis of our problems right now is #FreeSaliba… but again, when things are not going well, any average idea is given oxygen.

Arteta will experiment. He is humble enough to admit when he’s wrong. He will develop his ideas. But you need to brace for the fact that the path to top 4 is not paved in goals, it’s brick walls and ruthless discipline… and the hope that January might bring a present or two.

Don’t lose faith. Don’t covet busted flushes that started with better tools. Keep the faith. This is the way. xx

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896 Responses to “Reframing expectations.”

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  1. Valentin


    Both ManUtd defense and Arsenal defense are poor. Bar Gabriel and Eric Bailly (who is made of glass), none of the central defenders on show on Sunday are good enough for their respective clubs. Harry Maguire was a £80 millions con job by Leicester. David Luiz and Mustafi can’t handle 1v1 situation.

    The only way Arsenal can control the game is by putting pressure on their defense. Put two strikers on them and see how they won’t cope. A 3-5-2 formation. But in order to avoid both strikers isolated you need a willing runner from midfield. Saka behind Aubameyang and Lacazette. The two central midfielders need to have pace and athleticism so I would select Partey and either Elneny or Willock.
    Saliba Mustafi Gabriel
    AMN Partey Elneny/Willock Tierney
    Lacazette Aubameyang

    Arteta will be very conservative and afraid of conceding. His very rigid tactical plan will means that it will be a borefest. However if Arsenal concede first and early, ManUtd could run riot. I can see them running behind our fullback with Xhaka left in the wake of an onrushing Rashford or Martial.

    Under OGS, ManUtd are a counter-attacking machine. They may end up with less than 40% possession, yet with all the shots on target and dangerous occasions.

  2. Pierre

    “I am sorry but I don’t see Nketiah as a top level striker even factoring in his age. ”

    14 goals in 53 games Harry Kane scored at a similar age in league one and the championship. …
    For england under 21…….. 8 goals jn 14 games

    Did anyone think he would become a top level striker or a creator of quality goals that he is showing now…I didn’t and i would be surprised if anyone else could have predicted it

    I imagine 7 years ago you were saying ” I’m sorry , i dont see harry kane being a top level striker”

    .my point is , fans( and some managers ) are too quiick to write off potentially premier level players.

    Andy cole was sold by George Graham and he became one of the leagues best ever strikers..
    Ian wright was written off many times at a young age.

    Give the kids a chance to fulfil their potential, Willock showed last night that he could become a top quality attacking midfielder..


  3. Emiratesstroller

    Watching Pepe reminds me of Arsenal’s predicament with Walcott.

    Both were good footballers, with pace and the ability to score goals. The problem with both
    players is/was to find a position, where they could play consistently and suits their game.

    Walcott was not ideally suited to playing on the wing and was too easily dispossessed there.
    We have a similar problem with Pepe. Walcott was also experimented with as a striker and
    again that did not suit him.

  4. Leftfootcurler


    I am talking in terms of improving the team to get top 4.
    If you couldn’t see the positives,then you can’t separate system from personnel. So no point discussing further.
    Please check the xG for the last game too.

    If you simply want to improve the shots tally,it’s simple.
    Remove lacazette, get likes of Saka, Tierney, Bellerin,Pepe etc to put in cross after cross for Auba and Nketiah to attack.
    Variety of crosses.
    That would improve shots tally but no where near anywhere close for top 4.

    Every team except Liverpool who get into top 4 regularly have btl creators.

    Doesn’t have any long term potential of getting top 4 with this crossing approach though unless you have immense crossers like Liverpool FBs.

  5. Pierre

    If we play a 4-3-3 , I’d like to see Arteta try Partey in the middle with Willock and AMN either side..

    Let’s get some energy into the side

    Willock and AMN have pace, power and energy and are not afraid to take risks with the ball..

  6. Leftfootcurler

    Walcott suited playing RW.
    His goal scoring record from RW as well as in big games is one of the best(taking per90 stats here).

    He was just too injury prone to be a great player.

  7. Emiratesstroller


    AMN played in midfield yesterday and was distinctly average there against weak opposition.
    He is in my view a second string FB in current squad and nothing more.

    As matters stand Arsenal have one class midfielder in Partey with a number of other who are adequate squad options. What Arsenal needs to find are midfielder(s) who are an upgrade on what we have got.

  8. NORG


    That would be an exiting set up – I think that Arteta is too cautious to ‘do’ exciting and what would he do with Xhaka? You have forgotten Xhaka’s name is already on the teamsheet.

  9. raptora

    Walcott was not a good footballer. He had fantastic speed, great finishing, nice positioning, was making perfect runs, and his delivery was decent. His technique was very lackluster, his dribble was basically slide the ball to the side of a defender and run after it, he could never keep the ball under pressure. All very visible pluses in Pepe.

    I agree, however, that Pepe can be really frustrating. For every good thing he did, he misplaced a pass or lost the ball 3-4 times. It’s up to him to be way more effective. His goal was special.

  10. Dark Hei


    Walcott was great in the striker role when alongside Sanchez. He had the work attic to press and the speed to make it work.

    His off the ball movement was also excellent. In fact, it works precisely because most of the work was done off the ball since the guys behind him are all ball hogs. Also counters his greatest weakness which is his ability on the ball.

  11. raptora

    AMN had a disaster class. Can’t believe this lot refused to collect £20m for an average player. It’s right up there next to the biggest failures in our transfer history.

  12. Matt

    Walcott was a good footballer? Walcott was an awful footballer. He had pace and could finish fairly well, but he wasn’t even didn’t have the footballing brain to exploit his pace most of the time. He came to the game late and I think that always showed for me.

  13. karim

    TR7October 30, 2020 08:47:53
    Massive respect for Emmanuel Macron, a great leader. Get the feeling he is at the cusp of doing something absolutely amazing.

    Like what, going to war with Erdogan ?

  14. Leftfootcurler

    Actually it’s the opposite.
    Walcott lacked skill.

    Could only finish
    But his non penalty goals+assists per90 stats are very good.

    Because of intelligent movement.
    He had a good football brain.

  15. Raulishuss

    Pepe will do well do have the career Walcott had with arsenal. So many people underrate Walcott’s value to our team. Everyone can’t be technically clean but Walcott added value to our offense most times and history will show he had a very successful arsenal career

  16. raptora

    I agree that both Nelson and Willock did well yesterday. They will dominate a team of this caliber.

    I don’t think it made sense to keep them in the team as they are not ready for the first team and playing vs pub teams will not make them better. They both needed to play a lot more than they will. I can see that they might be of use, and playing them yesterday instead of the first string players is already a decent use.

    However, they will not progress nowhere near enough as they would if they were playing week in, week out in a Championship team or abroad. Arteta cannot show up and say “Oh.. We wanted to send Reiss on loan, but he said he wants to stay and fight for his place” ??? Like, are you not the boss?

  17. Raulishuss

    I’ll go with Gerrard. I have never seen such a complete midfielder in my life. Guy was just excellent in all aspect

  18. GunnerDNA

    Another terrible display from Mikel Arsenal, can’t wait for the season to be over. It’s worrying if that’s the best this team can perform irrespective of the opponent. He’s surely setting records for managing some of the worse Arsenal games.

  19. Leftfootcurler


    Scholes/Carrick double pivot.
    Not very athletic but dominated PL for years via passing.
    Best double pivot I have seen in PL

    I used to laugh at “how to play Gerrard and Lampard together” debate.

    Stick Gerrard ahead of scholes/Carrick midfield and England seriously challenge for international competitions.

    It was a very classy midfield and I always wished arsenal had that.

  20. Matt

    Is it really Mike Dean ref on Sunday? Two absolute certainties. At least one United penalty and a very contentious decision against us.

  21. Jim Lahey

    Ah Walcott. here we go with the classic revisionist history. Enough time has gone by that people now believe he was something that he clearly wasn’t.

    Theo Walcott was a player who would put boots into a team only when they are down and out. He goals often came in games that were already won. Whenever he was actually required to perform he went missing.

  22. Valentin


    It is not a midfield 2, but a midfield 3 in a triangle with Saka further advanced.
    I disagree that Willock will disappear in that configuration.
    He thrived in that formation last season. He was able to run forward when necessary and his athleticism and recovery is much greater than Ceballos and Xhaka.
    He disappeared when asked to play a No10 position.

  23. Leftfootcurler

    I would back Willock to improve under Arteta in training than on loan.

    His biggest flaw is that he doesn’t show for the ball and doesn’t demand the ball with any authority.

    You can’t be midfielder who hides from the ball.

    A big part of being a midfielder is getting on the ball and making a large number of safe passes and also stretching opponent’s shape.

    I am hoping he improves that under Arteta.

    Learning to block space will come with age.

    If he improves these two things,he is starting xi quality.

    His movement is excellent, causes chaos in the final third,good football IQ, he is strong in duels and is very athletic.

  24. Jim Lahey

    Foul count last night:

    Dundalk 0
    Arsenal 20

    The first team in Europa League history to play 90 minutes without committing a foul.

    Now for those of us that watched the game last night, it is more than suspect. Dundalk committed many fouls that were simply not called. I think the ref last night will be investigated by UEFA soon.

  25. karim

    Steven Gerrard, Robbie Fowler, Anthony Yeboah, Alan Shearer, Jay Jay Okocha, David Ginola,…

    so many to mention…Miss the nineties for so many reasons it’s not even funny

  26. Valentin


    Arteta does not want a central midfielder running beyond the attackers. Unfortunately for Willock a lot of his game is based on purposeful run into the box, Hence his reduced playing time.

    When Partey was purchased everybody assumed that he would be part of a double pivot. But so far Arteta has put him either further up or on his own. Rereading Arteta’s quote about Partey being able to control on his own the central midfield, it is clear that he still does not believe in a combination of central midfielders who can forcefully run forward to create havoc. Too risky for his liking.

    Unless we let Partey do what he is best at which is to use his athleticism to run at people, it would be a waste of £45 millions.

  27. karim

    Yeah, Scholes was on another level, Zidane was once asked how it felt to be the best European midfielder, to which he replied : “ I don’t know, go ask Scholes “

  28. Valentin


    “His biggest flaw is that he doesn’t show for the ball and doesn’t demand the ball with any authority.”

    Xhaka is making a career of hiding when under pressure. Willock has been the complete opposite, he may not have Xhaka passing ability but like Guendouzi before him accusing him of hiding is just plain wrong.

  29. Leftfootcurler


    You can call that midfield 3 if you want but Saka is not going to drop into 2nd phase. He will stay in the final third.

    So he is not really going to be playing midfield.

    As for Willock, he can’t block space nor does he get on the ball.

    He will go on runs, leaving Partey with too much space to cover.

    Since you don’t have much ball retention in your xi,you will lose the ball high up and be vulnerable to quick counters which are a united speciality.

    If you play 3-5-2,your settled shape will be 5-3-2 with 2 “midfielders” who can’t block space.

    Good luck,you would get thrashed.

  30. Leftfootcurler


    Then why is xhaka’s passes per game the highest among midfielders at the club?

    Xhaka clearly demands the ball and points to where his team mates should pass the ball.

    Getting into good receiving positions so that your team mates can play easy safe passes to you is a skill.

    Willock lacks that.
    Doesn’t demand the ball with authority.

    It’s why his passes per game is low.
    It’s a very important aspect of midfield play.

  31. Pierre

    “Now for those of us that watched the game last night, it is more than suspect. Dundalk committed many fouls that were simply not called. I think the ref last night will be investigated by UEFA soon.”

    Definitely something dodgy going on last night every tackle we made was deemed a foul..

    We would have won that game by at least 6 with a non biased ref.

  32. Nelson

    For me, they should allow Pepe to drift to the middle more often. We know now that he can shoot from outside the box with both feet. I don’t care how bad he plays the whole game. I just need him to score one and for now that is good enough Arteta will play very conservative. Most games will finish 1 – 0. I want Pepe to score that one goal unless Auba can find his form again. .

  33. Pierre

    “Getting into good receiving positions so that your team mates can play easy safe passes to you is a skill.Willock lacks that.
    Doesn’t demand the ball with authority.”

    That is an area he needs to improve, though he seemed to be on the ball more than enough last night.( without Xhalka in midfield)

    Maybe Xhaka is the problem as the game v Leìcester highlighted how much we play through xhaka.

    Partey was bypassed so many times in the 2nd half that it was no surprise our performance level dropped.

  34. Valentin


    Most of the players Xhaka receives the ball is from the goalkeeper. Demanding the ball when in space and there is no opponent around you is not what an effective midfielder does. When in central midfield (not in line with the CB or exiled to the left back position) and the team is under pressure Xhaka rarely demands the ball. When he does quite often the opposition nicks the ball of him and he has to resort to foul his opponent rugby tackle style.

    Xhaka has a lot of quality, but being press resistant and receiving the ball on the half turn is definitely not one of his strength.

  35. Raulishuss

    Xhaka has a lot of quality, but being press resistant and receiving the ball on the half turn is definitely not one of his strength.

    But you said he doesn’t offer himself to receive the ball. You never said been press resistant. I understand your point but IMO xhaka is still our only midfielder who shows enough for ball most times that is why under aw, UE and now ma he’s the one who touches the ball most in our team

  36. andy1886

    Sorry Karim, can’t say I would have been unhappy if Eric never rocked up at United. It isn’t going to be a popular opinion but I can appreciate Vardy as a player who makes the absolute maximum of his abilities and even at 33 has the sort of desire that embarrasses far more talented players. A bit like Wrighty.

  37. Pierre

    “AMN played in midfield yesterday and was distinctly average there against weak opposition.”

    I think you’ll find he played as our left wing back and he had a more than decent game..

    I’m talking about playing him in a 4-3-3 occupying the position that Ceballos struggled with v Leicester .

    AMN is way more athletic and skilful and pacey than Ceballos ..

  38. Pierre

    “If you simply want to improve the shots tally,it’s simple.
    Remove lacazette, get likes of Saka, Tierney, Bellerin,Pepe etc to put in cross after cross for Auba and Nketiah to attack.
    Variety of crosses.”

    David Moyes football …wouldn’t work with Aubameyang and Lacazette up top , neither are particularly good in the air against 6ft plus defenders.

  39. Leftfootcurler


    Against Leicester,I felt it was David Luiz who progressed the ball. We played through him.

    Whenever xhaka got the ball,he saw 2 options:

    1) Tierney further forward but he could only swing a hopeful cross to the central area.

    2) lacazette btl, surrounded by Leicester players.

    Since neither player had any support,he generally went back to Gabriel.

    As for Partey, he was in a bad, useless position. He was redundant.
    He should have been in Ceballos’s role.

    3 midfielders behind the ball was too much.

    2 midfielders with 1 pushed up BTL is what we needed.

    I have said before I would have changed at half time
    Partey in Ceballos’s role and substitute Ceballos for Willock to give us presence BTL.

    Yes Willock got on the ball more yesterday,agreed.
    I hope he continues to improve.

    Re xhaka,I just think due to Arsenal having better technicians on the left,we play more on the left.

    That helps him get on the ball more,as well.

    But I don’t think there is a specific plan to go through xhaka.

    Arteta ideally wants his team to be able to build from both sides, making us much more dangerous.

  40. Leftfootcurler


    I agree finishing is a skill.

    That was a mistake on my part.

    I wanted to convey that Walcott was quite limited as a player but still scored a lot due to have intelligent movement.

  41. Nelson

    Partey has been with us for two games only. It is obvious that the coaching team hasn’t set up a game plan for him yet. This midfield needs to be rebuilt. Let’s see what Arteta can come up with.

  42. Leftfootcurler


    Yes David Moyes football wouldn’t work.

    I said that in the comment from which you quoted me.

    My point is we have a style and it needs certain players.
    Bett to continue to develop that style and buy relevant players to improve.

    But david Moyes football would improve shots tally immediately.
    Doesn’t have to be crosses on the head.

    Low crosses.
    Crosses from half space.

    We won’t be 17th in shots like everyone is complaining about.

  43. Valentin


    Xhaka has been tasked by our different managers to restart the play because he is the best passer. However when the team is under pressure he disappears.
    Look at all the game when we were under pressing and suddenly you see his stats for touch of the ball drop.
    Last season there was a few games where both Guendouzi and Willock showed him up.
    Against Aston Villa, against Spurs he was transparent. Against Watford, he was the one hiding. Remember when he said that we were scared, the reality was that he was scared and hiding.

    I have said it before, last season Willock was the only midfield player who was not afraid of receive the ball on the half turn under pressure.

    I know that Xhaka has a certain number of stats showing hisbprowess. However Number of touches becomes irrelevant if they are the results of playing constantly recycling the ball backward. Same with the yardages of progressive passes, it can be skewed by a player regularly making long switch of play. If those switches of play never results in anything useful, instead of showing progressive move it just show an impotence.

    Think about it, on Twitter somebody was defending Xhaka by showing that he has better stats than Cazorla! Whatever the stats may say, my eyes tell me that Cazorla was a better player than Xhaka.

  44. Nelson

    OGS plays more like Mou than Klopp and Pep. Both MC and the Pools press high. Manure doesn’t do much high press. Xhaka should have more space and time to do his passing.

  45. Captain Tierney

    Walcott lacked the technique and the intelligence required to become a world class winger.

    He had blistering pace and his finishing was guite good.
    As he grew older he should have been able to improve this technique and intelligence, unfortunately he never did and at 27 was still very similar to his 18 year old self.

  46. Leftfootcurler

    The point is xhaka gets on the ball more than Willock.

    Since you are having Willock in your xi, his teammates will have 1 player less to pass to,in the middle of the park, making it easier for United to press you, and I am sure you are aware of their ability to hurt us via quick breaks when they win the ball.

    Too risky to have Willock as 2nd CM,imo.

  47. Captain Tierney

    Pepe is a wide forward and needs to played closer to the goal.

    Arteta deploys Pepe as a an out and out winger to accomodate Auba is the inside forward. Pepe is not much suitable to this role and therefore is ineffective for most of the game as he is shunted out to the right wing. Arteta imo should try to learn a little from the Klopp system where both the wingers cut inside and play very close to the goal while the full backs and sometimes central Midfielders provide the width.

  48. Captain Tierney

    Willock is not suited to play as central midfielder in a 2 man pivot as he always tend to push further up the pitch a la Ramsey.

    His best role would be as a free/advanced 8 in a 4-3-3.

  49. Marc

    “Partey has been with us for two games only. It is obvious that the coaching team hasn’t set up a game plan for him yet. ”

    We were reported to be chasing him for the whole of the summer and we didn’t have an idea of how we wanted to use him?

  50. raptora

    Anyone including Xhaka in his preferred starting 11 must be trolling.

    It’s not a coincidence that we finished 2nd the season before he joined, and 4 full seasons later we haven’t been able to finish in top 4. We haven’t had a functioning midfield for about the same period and for a while we’ve reached the extreme lengths to just not play through the midfield at all.

    Now that we have Partey, if we want to progress, we need to limit Xhaka’s starts.

    I’m frustrated that people don’t see how he will always be a liability in our team and we will never be competitive in the League with him being an integral part of the team. Can’t believe he is on his way of reaching 200 apps this year.

    It’s not surprising that the only team interested in him was Hertha Berlin. It’s his level. I’ve no idea how people are still so blind to how limited we become with him in the team.

    It’s no coincidence that 2 or 3 managers got sacked during his time in the club. Might as well get young Arteta the sack too and people will still want him in the team.

  51. Leftfootcurler

    BTL means between the lines.

    We lack players who used to play between the opposition’s midfield line and defence line.

    We removed the ones we had – Ozil, Ramsey,iwobi,mkhi
    And didn’t replace them.

    B2b just refers to a box to box midfielder.

  52. Marc


    Agree on Xhaka – what those who rate him can never answer “Go through the table and tell me how many other PL teams he’d start for every week?”

  53. Gonsterous


    Oh cheers. Yes we definitely don’t have runners running between the lines. But it’s more to do with the rigid system that we play. Even emery had more runner from his pull back to the center tactic.
    But if arteta allows more attacking freedom, we will see runs from el neny and partey, xhaka not so much.

  54. andy1886

    Hi Karim. Yes, I think Vardy would have been a success at the Ems. Just how much depends on how Wenger would have used him. I don’t believe that he wanted to change our style of play to suit Vardy’s game so my guess is that he would have been a ‘Plan B’ option with Giroud still first choice. I doubt that he would have played the two together although that may have been a decent option. So he would have been more of a bit part player, still successful no doubt but not as successful as he has been at Leicester so he probably made the correct choice.

  55. G8

    From his 15 mins cameo, I would say Balogun has more sauce than Nketiah ..the gun in his name is enough for me to give him ago!

  56. karim


    Hard to disagree with this. He would have been such a non-typical Wenger signing though, just like Suarez by the way.

    Could have been good fun. Oh well…

  57. Pierre

    “Willock is not suited to play as central midfielder in a 2 man pivot as he always tend to push further up the pitch a la Ramsey.”

    He played that role alongside Guendouzi at home to Burnley and it worked really well with ceballos ahead of them .

    Sadly , those 3 never played another game together.

  58. Champagne charlie

    Leftfoot continues to offer views that go beyond ‘this player is shit’, refreshing to see someone actually take more than one aspect into consideration when chewing over matters.

    Also doesn’t appear to be any conspiracies or bias in his views of players, takes them all at face value and appreciates both what they can/can’t offer and the implications of that.

    Much more enjoyable content because of it.

  59. Leftside

    Arteta has Vardy on the wing too so Nketiah can run around and appear busy, or Laca can drop deep because he’s “frustrated”.

  60. Moray

    We just have to hope this is Vardy’s last season. He always scores against us. I can’t watch his gyppo rat fuck face any more.

  61. Leftside

    Me neither, I still am jarred by that annoying inevitability once Vardy came on the field on Sunday.

    Fixture list hasn’t been kind to us but we have to start collecting points against these sides in and around us.

  62. Moray

    I wonder how many points we would have saved over the past few seasons if we have bought Vardy and Oziled/deregistered him? He was already, what 28 or 29 when we went in. Incredible winter of his career, that guy.

  63. Moray

    @Leftside, it looks as though the lack of pre season and the empty stadiums is favouring the more attacking side, or maybe the counter-attacking side. We need to start showing more knicker than skirt or I fear we will keep getting rolled.

  64. Pierre

    “From his 15 mins cameo, I would say Balogun has more sauce than Nketiah ..the gun in his name is enough for me to give him ago!”

    I would say they are both a slightly different type of player.
    Seeing Balogun last night and even though he didn’t do a lot, what I did see was a player who looked explosive in his movement, unlike Nketiah.

    I could imagine him being a proper handfull for defenders , we must do all we can to keep him.

    Eddie is more an Andy Cole type striker who pops up in the right position and lives for goals…

    Could Balogun and Eddie work together , why not …they could be a lethal partnership.
    Balogun is a more physical kevin Campbell type striker with Eddie reaping the benefit.

    Alan smith / ian wright was a partnership that worked.

    Of course this talk is probably futile as Balogun could be leaving , plus it is highly unlikely that Arteta would play 2 up top.

  65. Goobergooner

    Left foot curler,

    This is a bit late. Still catching up to the comments haha. I rate your posts highly as I like the tactical thoughts behind them. This just doesn’t make sense considering most of them are attacking midfielders…

    “The problem is in attack,not midfield.

    We removed Ozil, Ramsey, iwobi, mkhi who all play in those pockets of space and didn’t replace them.

    It’s why I have been saying we need to buy Sancho/grealish/Maddison/Coutinho/Brandt/buendia.”

    Our problem in my opinion is definitely midfield.

    Xhaka is so slow on the ball, and Ceballos isn’t an AM.

    We have major problems utilising the middle of the pitch between the half way and the opponent’s goal.

    Your quote
    .” Lack of players who can play between the opposition’s midfield and the defense line is why we couldn’t progress the ball.”

    Is correct. But if we had Ramsey here you’d say he’s a midfielder. Just not a behind the ball midfielder.

    We need to be able to play quick combinations in and around midfield which has been sorely lacking for ages.

    We need to be able to control that from the back first and foremost which Partey and Ceballos should improve for us played together. But we do still lack that btl player.

    Our front line with proper service, on paper, should be better than it is ATM.
    The last few seasons attest to that.

    Arteta obviously sees the middle of the park as a problem, considering his two main priorities were midfielders, and the fact he has us playing majority wing play avoiding the middle. What ishola says is not wrong.

    Onto win though. What a nice showing from the youngsters. I’m stoked Willock was on the scoresheet and played a good game. Pepe’s goal was fucking delightful! Good on Eddie doing his job.

    On and up from here. The weekend is going to be tough.

  66. S Asoa

    Nice to see good posts from Valentin and Keftfootcurler., Both are relevant posts really ,so no need to compete.
    The crux appears that Xhaka is our problem. Has good ,but useless statistics, easily dispossessed and prone to fouling under pressure for which Arteta moved him up to prevent costly fouls. Clearly Arteta favourite, the team knows and makes a lot more passes to him than a better player Partey. Xaka promptly mostly passes back. So ultimately it appears Arteta obtusiveness is our problem , consistently playing class players out of position. This actually illustrates Arteta deficiency not to device a play to suit whomsoever he got. This will always be a carrot dangled before a donkey’s nose as most posters are prone to .

  67. englandsbest

    The focus has shifted to Pepe (as it should). He made the difference last night.

    Arteta talks about more ‘consistency’ from him. But what he really wants are more game-changing ‘moments’ from him – and that will not happen until Pepe is played consistently.

  68. Graham62


    If it was up to me, I’d have Pepe playing every game.

    He can do special things.

    I guarantee if he had had a consistent run in the team, we would have seen far more of these special things.

  69. WinOrDie

    The notion that we need a creative midfielder to start creating is in my opinion incorrect.
    If you watch teams like leeds , atlanta and other in the champions league, you can easily
    observe that they move the ball in patterns that end up in a big chance/goal. Point is Arteta can create
    patterns of movement with these players and solve the creativity problem BUT unfortunately it seems he does not have that much ideas because every time i watch arsenal play this season it looks there is no plan B also at this point the opponents know that arsenal creates mostly through luiz and very predictable moves.

  70. karim


    I saw them destroy my local team 4-0 in the uefa cup at the time with a screamer from Robert.
    Ameobi was a player I liked a lot back then.

  71. S Asoa

    Watching the full replay. Dundalk are quite meh and nice boys who do not foul. Arteta put in substitutes first time so extensively. One can expect the youngsters to have deficiencies , but playing them a few times will enable them to get a feel of real life competition. Also applicable to Pepe who first time ,after having a hostile Bellerin has youngsters who return passes . Out of practice after Bellerin I guess since Pepe was initially not getting into positions to accept return passes.

  72. raptora

    I agree with S Asoa.

    I think the senior players don’t pass Pepe enough on purpose. Similar to the episode Benzema had this week, they don’t seem to trust him so he at times looks completely isolated. Yes, he might be frustrating at times, but he doesn’t deserve the treatment of receiving 10x less balls than the other winger.

  73. DivineSherlock

    My gripe with Pepe is that he should bulk up a little, but that should also be obvious to Arsenal staff and they should make him that much stronger. A little strength wouldnt hurt his pace or skills.

  74. englandsbest


    Me, too, tho’ not always as a starter.

    I’d play Elneny alongside as an accomplice, to mop up when Pepe loses the ball. And I’d curb Bellerin’s forays upfield to allow Pepe space and scope.

    A few games like that, and Pepe’s ‘moments’ will multiply. Time for Arteta to be a little less cautious, certainly in the second half. Starting at OT on Sunday.

  75. S Asoa

    Bringing with Ceballos and Williams in a match we are quite comfortable at 3-0 and fortunately Dundolf not having any apparent goal scorer is absolutely timid on part of Arteta. That guy is pathetic. Should have brought in some fringe keeping the back strong.

  76. Champagne charlie

    Always impresses me seeing the manner certain players get defended, or abused by fans.

    Pepe is apparently a victim of Arteta and his teammates now. Arteta for not playing him enough, his teammates for not passing to him enough. Then there’s others who are having it all worked just for them allegedly.

    So are we ignoring the fact that if Pepe did the basics every game he’d have more trust from his manager to start games, and if he made more good decisions on the pitch he’d be given the ball by his teammates more and more (hello Saka)?

    Odd to see the cult approach. Rebranding it that the manager, and majority of the team, are actively hurting one player is a real whiff imo.

  77. Champagne charlie


    I liked that Toon team, always had a handful of guys I’d enviously enjoy watching. Solano was a cute player, Robert, Asprilla was electric. Ameobi was such a force, and then dog shit another week haha frustrating guy. Big Al was a force always though.

    Even later on they seemed to have a few players worth a watch like Tiote, Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Jonas, Martins, Bellamy.

  78. S Asoa

    Ballogan didn’t anticipate a back heel. This is a reason why youngsters should be given game time when possible to get a feel and get confidence. An immature coach will discount an youngster on his first appearance when he is trying to get his bearings like Arteta did with our St. Etienne defender

  79. Leftfootcurler


    I am glad you enjoy my writing.
    Well the term “attacking midfielder” is a bit of an oxymoron.

    Here is how I use certain terms:-

    Players who do most of their work in the final third are attackers.

    Players who do most of their work in 1st and 2nd phase are midfielders.

    Attackers love to roam, looking for opportunity to score.

    It’s a fundamental midfield trait to be disciplined and to be able to block space.

    Ozil,iwobi,mkhi without question did most of their work in the final third.

    So I consider them attackers.

    Before talking about Ramsey, I will say there is a category of CMs I call 3rd CMs. Those are players who contribute significantly to both 2nd phase and the final third.

    Players like ballack, Lampard, Gerrard,vidal, Pogba,hamsik etc all fit this category.
    I generally call them 3rd CM.

    Ramsey also falls into this category.
    These players you can call “attacking midfielders”.

    But my point is of players who take up good positions in the pockets- although Ramsey can do it,it’s primarily an attacker’s skill. Here Ramsey”s offensive abilities are being used.

    So lumping it all as saying the problem is in attack is not wrong.

    If you get a chance to re-watch arsenal games,pause when the ball is with CMs.

    And look at their passing options.

    There isn’t much. Just 1 player btl surrounded by opponents.

    So I think the issue is lack of enough forward options.

    Arteta has identified midfield as an issue,sure.
    But you may have noticed, arsenal struggled to create against a team like rapid Wien despite Partey having a very good game.

    If you observe closely, a few times he tried to force the ball through but likes of Nketiah and laca lost the ball due to lack of support.

    Again lack of options btl

    If you lack options BTL,of course you will go backwards and sideways..

    Arteta decided to improve our midfield first but still we will struggle.

    It’s something Ole’s United went through too.
    He also bought midfield and defence signings first.
    Struggled against low blocks all season.
    Improved post Bruno, a btl creator.

    So I disagree. It’s the attack which needs surgery the most.

    Arteta can avoid buying btl creators if he buys complete CFs, that will solve our issue too.

  80. S Asoa

    Sometimes one needs political acumen or maturity to read into mind games and not blindly believe some PR put out as gospel truth

  81. Champagne charlie

    “An immature coach will discount an youngster on his first appearance when he is trying to get his bearings like Arteta did with our St. Etienne defender“

    Seems a bit of a foolish claim. So Arteta, a young coach at the pinnacle of the football elite, is brazenly going to overlook something you’re keenly aware of from your living room chair?

    Idk about that one.

  82. S Asoa

    Your initial preamble was on principles of play.. Sound fundamentals, maybe a reason why your conclusions are also spot on.

  83. Marko

    To be fair I wondered recently about Arteta’s reasoning for leaving out Saliba of the Europa League squad list and it was because he had so many CB’s but then he registered Balogan who has 3 other players ahead of him. Kinda makes no sense but Mikel admitted he fucked up recently which was nice. Better to admit fault than dig your heels in

  84. Marko

    Arteta on whether Aubameyang could play centrally:
    ‘It’s one of the options that we have for sure in the team, to evolve it. The moment he doesn’t score in three or four games, people will say, ‘He needs to play more central’. It was great for him to play on the left because he wasn’t picked up by central defenders. There was more freedom for him to do that. [Criticism] is a part of this industry.’

    He still doesn’t get it

  85. raptora

    As most people noticed in the situations of Guen, Torreira, Martinez, Saliba, Pepe, Martinelli, Auba the manager doesn’t know best. All these players were/are suffering under Arteta.

    Yet Xhaka, Mustafi, Kolasinac, AMN are still here going strong game after game.

    Imagine being a yes man no matter what is happening with the logic “If the manager decides it, it’s obviously the best thing, so don’t comment on it”.

    Reminds me of Wenger saying he does not have to explain his substituions cause he’s been a manager for 30 years and has made 50 000 substitutions. It was after the game where RvP screamed “No” the moment he saw a MotM performance Chamberlain get subbed by Arshavin. Every Arsenal fan watching the game screamed “No” at the time.

    Shut up and support the team crowd knows best.

  86. S Asoa

    You are wrong. Think Wenger boasted about making 20000 substitutions. And STUFFU conclusion us correct

  87. Marko

    Also people pining for the return of Martinelli and hoping that he’ll inject something special into our attack have to remember not only is he coming back from a long term injury but prior to the injury Mikel barely played him. So expect training wheels for him for a couple of months or I wouldn’t even be surprised if he was loaned out by Mikel.

  88. raptora

    Honestly CC is reaching Bamford level of annoyingness.

    Whatever anyone says about Arteta and he’s there to say:
    “So Arteta, a young coach at the pinnacle of the football elite, is brazenly going to overlook something you’re keenly aware of from your living room chair?”

    Why have a blog with comments then? Just stop the comment section. Only UEFA Pro Licence coaches should be allowed to write. Sorry Pedro but you can’t have an opinion either.

  89. Kris

    Not registering Saliba was not THE mistake. It was a consequence of a mistake.

    If I remember correctly, we wanted Saliba to go on loan to the Championship, which could have happened until the 16th, and that’s why we didn’t register him. But then we screwed up getting him on loan or Arteta changed his mind, and by then I think it was too late to register him for Europa (which had to be done by the 8th).

    Incompetence in any case.

  90. Kris


    “So Arteta, a young coach at the pinnacle of the football elite, is brazenly going to overlook something you’re keenly aware of from your living room chair?”

    Then why do you keep suggesting Nelson should be selected ahead of Pepe? Do you think Arteta is brazenly overlooking Nelson or is it that he just notices he doesn’t produce much despite “doing all basics better” than Pepe?

  91. Champagne charlie


    You find irritation in someone questioning your views, then either it’s an appeal to consensus or straw man bullshit so spare me the criticisms.

    You’re free to write what you like, but it also invites response. Either debate it or ignore it. Nobody is censoring your speech.

  92. Marko

    Kris either way it looked dumb when you consider the players Mikel chose ahead of Saliba and not just that but in Mustafi, Chambers and Mari he registered 3 players who were injured at the time ahead of Saliba. So not only was it a fuck up because Saliba should have been given games and experience in that competition or because Saliba is better than some of the players picked ahead of him but 3 of them were injured and then subsequently Holding and Luiz got injured. Big mistake by Arteta

  93. Valentin


    It boils down to two mistakes.
    First Arsenal had agreed a deal with ASSE for Saliba to go back there. Then Rennes cames in and throw a spanner because they were offering Champion’s League football to him. Unfortunately somebody realised late than sending him to a team qualified for Europe meant that Saliba could not qualify as home grown so it was all stop.
    That was the first mistake not realising earlier the consequence of sending him on loan to a French club playing in European competition.

    The second mistake boils down to Arteta changing his mind late. Instead of sending him on loan to a Championship club, he decided he wanted to keep him on site. Unfortunately that change was too late for him to be registered in the Europa League squad.

    I kind of understand the mistakes, but to me that still show a lack of medium term planning behind the scene. Somebody should have sit with ARTETA and draft a plan for every players.

    * Do we keep or send him on loan?
    * If we send him on loan, which clubs is best for his development?
    * If we keep him, what are target upon which we will measure his improvement and can we already decide what we are going to do in January?

  94. Valentin


    Do what I do. Deliberatedly ignore all comments by that poster. I do not engage at all and let him get into fight with others.

    I found that Bamford annoying and slightly deranged, but at least he was polite and did not insult others unless insulted first. I also found that whatever he was writing, there was a posse of people who got triggered. Which was funny, because most of them agreed with his opinion that Arsenal had a poor squad. They just can not countenance the fact that he considered OGS a better coach than Arteta and that ManUtd squad was better than ours.

    I disagreed on both count, but I accepted that was his opinion.

  95. Valentin

    Looks like Arsenal is sharpening is its hatchet again, Huss Fahmy the Arsenal top contract negotiator is leaving soon.
    Guess it make sense if Edu is reshaping the negotiation team following Raul departure.
    Looks like none of the oldies will not be anybody left. I know that Huss Fahmy only joined us in June 2017, but it starts to really look like Edu wants to make tabula Rasa.

  96. Marc


    Well let’s hope Edu is as good as he thinks he is. The Saliba debacle hasn’t got people talking about our world class operation.

  97. MD-Gunner

    “I kind of understand the mistakes, but to me that still show a lack of medium term planning behind the scene. Somebody should have sit with ARTETA and draft a plan for every players.”

    Totally agree but it shows a lack of planning for the decisions being made by Arteta. He knew that if it happens so that Saliba will not be registered than how will I deal with this new situation and if there is no satisfying answer than escalate this situation’s priority.

    Without digging up any Ozil arguments, but this also applies to this situation. If by leaving Ozil out you will have less creativity than deal and address this and come up with a solution and the excuse we didn’t get Auor is just lazy, you have to deal with the consequences of your decisions and anticipate what may or may not happen, that is what he is getting paid for.

    I am very disappointed how he handled both those situations, the creativity factor had starred us in the face for years it was not a surprise, The Saliba situation was handled terrible because everyone anticipated the new Arsenal player to be in the team. Arteta can only be thanking his lucky starts that the stadiums are empty or he would get a thrashing like he has been getting on social media.

  98. Valentin


    I hope as well.
    I know that in France Arsenal negotiation team was reported to be a joke. I thought that Raul constant interference was the main reason, but it looks like Edu has decided the cause went deeper.

    The Saliba debacle is more due to our administrative team and Arteta changing his mind. Maybe like I alluded earlier, Arsenal needs to have a better structure and overall organisation, and a proper medium term plan.

    I know that in many French clubs, there is some kind of medium term plan for every players and positions. Maybe because it is a consequence of the DNCG (the French Professional Football Clubs regulator) demanding a financial plan before the beginning of the season for every clubs detailing the financials outgoing and incoming. Any plan viewed as unrealistic and insufficiently detailed may result in the club being banned from recruiting and in the most egregious case relegated. That kind of threat sharpen the minds.

  99. Valentin


    I hope that Edu has realised that there is a need for a joined up medium term approach and working on that.

    That medium term approach is more than just administrative organisation. Arteta seems to like hoarding players, which make sense for this condensed season. However if he is not going to use some players, then we need to aggressively work to either sell them or loan them.

    Everybody focussed on Özil, but Sokratis is in exactly the same situation. Every who could add up could see that two senior non-home grown players were going to miss out. How could Arsenal not spot and resolve such an obvious problem beforehand?

  100. Nelson

    I have a feeling that Arteta is over worked. His assistants seem to be of little help. Anyone would have stop him to play Willian as false 9 and Auba as RW. The handling of Siliba was not well thought out. He blamed it on unexpected set back of Mari. But he is taking unnecessary risk in the first place. He couldn’t get Pepe going. I am hoping that he’ll at least get Partey play to his potential. and he’ll finalize his starting 11.

  101. Goobergooner

    Left foot curler

    “If you get a chance to re-watch arsenal games,pause when the ball is with CMs.And look at their passing options.There isn’t much. Just 1 player btl surrounded by opponents.”

    This is one problem I have noted many times over the last seasons for sure.

    The forward line is mainly static (which is an attacking issue) and there is no-one really making themselves available in areas forward of the ball carrier. Hence the back passing.

    Totally agree with your assessment.

    Haha and yeah I understand where you’re coming from in regards to 3rd mids and what not.

    Would Aouar have been the player to fill that spot?
    Looks a lost cause for the next window now.

    That position is now our most sorely lacking for sure.

    I do believe given time to settle that Partey will provide the platform at the base of mid to properly play through the centre.

    For me that is one reason we didn’t do as well as we could have when we had Santi in the middle. He lacked a partey next to him.

    Now it’s the exact opposite.

    The recruitment over the last 5 + years (depends who you talk to could be up to 12 😂) has really hampered us. It’s been so damn poor.